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4-Course Place Setting

Do you know how to set the table?

Setting the table for dinner seems to have become a lost art. When we ask course participants to set the table for a 4-course meal, it is rare that anyone can do it! Could you?

Setting a proper table shows respect to your guests and elevates a simple meal into a treasured experience. Knowing which glass and fork to use will not only save you from embarrassing moments, but it will help you confidently navigate important opportunities to connect with people around the table.

Does every table setting need to include 14 forks? Of course not. A well-set table only provides the items needed to consume the meal being served. There is no need for a steak knife or soup spoon if neither steak nor soup are on the menu. Setting the table begins with knowing what is being served.

Let’s look at how to set the table for a 4-course meal that includes soup (soup spoon), salad (salad fork), chicken (entrée fork and knife), mashed potatoes, green beans, bread (bread plate and butter spreader), pie ala mode (dessert fork & spoon), water (water glass), and wine (wine glass).

Dinner Plate. Position the dinner plate at the center of the place setting, about one inch from the table’s edge.

Flatware. All flatware is set based on the order of use. Think “outside in.”

  • To the left of the dinner plate, place the entrée fork and then the salad fork. The salad fork is on the outside because it will be used before the entrée fork.
  • To the right of the dinner plate, place the entrée knife with the blade of the knife facing the plate. Set the soup spoon to the right of the entrée knife.
  • Above the dinner plate, place the dessert fork close to the dinner plate with the fork’s handle facing left. Place the dessert spoon above the dessert fork with the spoon’s handle facing right.

Bread Plate. Place the bread plate above the salad and entrée forks. Set the butter spreader on the bread plate with the handle facing right and the blade facing down.

Glassware. Set the water glass above the tip of the entrée knife. Set the wine glass (or any additional beverage glass) next to the water glass.

Napkin. Place the napkin on the dinner plate or to the left of the forks. We don’t recommend setting flatware on the napkin because it requires the diner to remove the flatware before placing the napkin on their lap.

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